In 2015 the University of Westminster acquired the archive of Gordon Cullen, an alumnus and renowned illustrator, urban theorist, planner and architect. The Archive consists of 115 boxes of drawings, plans, sketches, files and photographs. A basic box listing is available on our online catalogue at http://archivesearch.westminster.ac.uk
Born in Yorkshire in 1914, Cullen moved to London to study Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1932. Although he did not actually complete the course he worked in the field of architecture and urban design his entire professional life.
Cullen first worked at Berthold Lubektin and Tecton. There he was involved in projects such as the Highpoint housing complex in Highgate, and the Finsbury Health Centre where he painted the murals in the foyer.
During the Second World War Cullen was unable to serve in the Armed Forces due to poor eyesight. Instead, he worked in the planning office of the Development and Welfare Department in Barbados and was involved in building a modernist school on St Vincent.
On his return to the UK he started working for the Architectural Review and produced influential editorials and case studies on planning theory and urban design.
In 1958 Gordon Cullen and his family moved from London to Wraysbury in Berkshire. After a couple of years working in India advising on the planning of Ford Foundation work in Calcutta and New Delhi, Cullen then worked from his office in the garden of his Wraysbury home for the remainder of his career.
Other projects included work on the post-war reconstruction of Liverpool and Peterborough, the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Swedish Quays development in the London Docklands. In 1985 he set up a practice with David Price and worked for Price and Cullen until his death in 1994.
Perhaps Gordon Cullen’s most significant achievement was his work to do with the townscape movement. In 1961 he wrote Townscape, regarded by many as his seminal work. This has since been republished as The Concise Townscape (Architectural Press, 1971) and continues to be used by students all over the world. In 1978 he was awarded a CBE for his contribution to architecture.
Dan Cruickshank wrote of Gordon Cullen, ‘his determination to see the ordinary afresh with an inquisitive eye was an abiding passion with Cullen’.